Ralph's Photos and Trip Report for his May 2010 trip to Key Largo, Staying at the Jules Undersea Lodge and diving a Mark V!!!!!!


Ralph has given us a fantastic trip report from his latest excursion to Key Largo. Not only did he have a stay at the Jules' Undersea Lodge, but also hit the Diving Museum, and even got a chance to dive an Mark-V!!!!!  We find Ralph's reports a real treat and are planning on an MK-5 experience for the group... See below, the report, gallery, and even a few movies!


"I had an opportunity before a business conference started to participate in a saturation diving experience at Key Largo, Florida on Saturday May 15, 2010.  Specifically, I spent a night in an underwater habitat.  This habitat was formerly known as the La Chalupa Research Laboratory.  It was used to explore the continental shelf off of the coast of Puerto Rico.  Originally built in 1972, it eventually became the Jules Undersea Lodge in the early 1980ís.  The laboratory still exists.  Further information can be found at


A Map of the undersea lodge layout can be seen here: 


Dive 104 Jules Undersea Lodge, Key Largo Florida  May 15, 2010.  This was Habitat Mission # 4069.  Depth 20.5 feet (i.e. due to the modest depth, chamber decompression is not required before returning to the surface.), Calm water in the Emerald Lagoon.  You wear scuba gear to gain access to the underwater habitat.  This habitat had 2 bedrooms.  Observations: compressed air inside habitat keeps water from rising in the moon pool.  The toilet works similar to a dive boat, slept better in the habitat versus home, and you hear air constantly being piped in from the surface.

Before occupying the habitat you get a topside briefing concerning life support systems in addition to familiarization of the habitat with all the amenities offered.  Your Mission Director acts as a butler, housekeeper, chef, underwater habitat historian and briefer, and excursion guide.  I was the only person occupying the habitat on this day.  I had an excellent dinner, watched DVDís, read portions of a book, and constantly looked out the 4 inch thick windows in the habitat.

 If someone actually becomes involved in marine science in their future they may have opportunities through universities and other research institutions and or military to have access to underwater labs at other locations in the world not open to recreational divers.  Another option would be the luxurious places worldwide as a tourist.  Nevertheless the experience at Jules Undersea Lodge was neat and will be remembered for what I chose to undertake this time!  It gave me an appreciation for those whose jobs typically involve using facilities like this to carry-on their research, exploration activities, or military applications.  Here is some more information on underwater habitats: 

I realize this unique opportunity may appear expensive for a short overnight stay but look at the costs for similar opportunities (eat and or sleep underwater) elsewhere in the world:





Pictures I took while inside the underwater Hotel at Jules Undersea Lodge are below...

Besides the Jules Undersea Lodge, I had another unique opportunity while at Key Largo Florida.  I participated in diving in a MARK V Diving Suit!   

Detailed Historical Information on a MARK V: 




This was obviously my first experience in diving with this gear since it appears this experience isnít readily available worldwide to recreational divers.  The location to participate in this activity at Key Largo can be found here:


Dive 105.  Holiday Inn Canal Key Largo Florida May 16, 2010.  Salt water, calm, 150 lbs equipment on the surface, 30-40 lbs underwater, climb down 18 foot ladder and walk on platform underwater; 30 minutes underwater.

Observations: Limited visibility using the Mark V Helmet versus a scuba mask, the suit felt like you were being squeezed underwater, provided me an opportunity to experience what it was like prior to modern day scuba gear being invented. 

Besides this actual diving experience, I also had the opportunity to see the Diving Museum at Islamorada.  A lot of information exists at this museum and it is worth going to whether or not you decide to participate in an actual MARK V diving experience at Key Largo.  Consult: http://www.divingmuseum.com/

Despite the differences between hard hat diving of the past and modern scuba diving, it was definitely an experience to obtain to appreciate even more the advances in underwater diving that have taken place over time.   

Pictures below are my MARK V Experience plus pictures I took at the Diving Museum."



Diving Museum Gallery

Jules' Undersea Lodge Gallery

MK-5 Gallery

The below videos require "Quicktime" player. Get it here.

MK-5 Movie 1 MK-5 Movie 2 MK-5 Movie 3